essay on Mark Twain's Method of Teaching

"Mark Twain and the Russian Revolution" discusses his first official public participation in a political cause, when Twain's opposition to the Russian Czar led him to join "The Society of Friends of Russian Freedom" in 1891. Twain wrote several pieces that roundly condemned the Russian monarchy in similar terms as his later anti-imperialist writings. Like his participation in the Anti-Imperialist League, the importance of Twain's writings on Russia have remained largely ignored in Twain studies, apart from Twain's unfortunate sponsorship of Maxim Gorky's visit to New York in 1906, when the "Mrs. Gorky" who had accompanied the Russian writer and activist was discovered to be an actress, not his wife. An essay on Mark Twain's response to the Dreyfus Affair in France further argues for Twain's ability to link abstract questions of freedom and repression with concrete examples of imperialism and racism.

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For Mark Twain scholars, the centerpiece of the book will undoubtedly be the essay "'Prodigally Endowed with Sympathy for the Cause': Mark Twain's Involvement with the Anti-Imperialist League." First published in 1994, the essay recovered Twain's contributions to the Anti-Imperialist League--as a vice president of the League from 1901 to 1910, as a participant in the League's propaganda efforts, and as an essayist and speaker who used his fame to promote his political views. Twain did not take an active role in the day-to-day activities of the League, but instead used his name and his writings to express his sympathy with the cause. Twain's anti-imperialist views influenced much of his writing during his final years, in both direct pieces such as "To the Person Sitting in Darkness" and as a theme in writings such as "Extract from Captain's Stormfield's Visit to Heaven," , and (128). As Zwick points out, Mark Twain's social and political writings were often viewed with confusion by those who viewed his role as a humorist as antithetical to serious writing. This essay recontextualizes Mark Twain's political activities within the larger history of anti-imperialism at the time.


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Zwick also provides two brief essays on Mark Twain's connections with various figures related to the imperialist question. The first traces out the links between Twain, the anti-imperialist writer and activist Ernest Crosby, and the illustrator Dan Beard. The second discusses the connections between Twain and Andres Bonifacio, the first leader of the Philippine Revolution, and between Twain and Winston Churchill. These two essays, while not making large historical points like other essays in this book, are interesting to read and point to the historical figures who are linked with Twain through his anti-imperial work.